Haskins sees sales jump thanks to Christmas boom

South coast group reports "brilliant" sales in the run-up to the holidays.

Sales at Haskins garden centres are 8.5 per cent up this year thanks to added community involvement and a greater concentration on second half non-gardening sales, according to retail operations director Philip Evason.

He said sales for Christmas have been "brilliant" with best ever December weeks succeeding each other at the four-centre south coast group.

Evason added that footfall and average spend was up on 2008 with pent-up demand helping sales.

"We're making ourselves more of a destination centre," he explained. "We're bigger with gifts, cards and books and in the second half of the year and when planting's not so big that's a necessary balance. The front end was great for everyone and now we're seeing the benefits of extra efforts with gifts and Christmas."

Meanwhile, the 39-store Hobbycraft chain, owned as a separate company to the garden centre group by Haskins chairman Warren Haskins, is looking to sell to chief executive Chris Crombie or another buyer next year.

Sales over the year to 22 February 2009 rose by 11% to £68.7 million and pre-tax profits rose to £5.4 million. In the 35 weeks since the year end, like-for-like sales at the chain have risen by 9%.


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